From Lab to Law: The Phthalates Ban, the Precautionary Principle, and How New Science Becomes New Policy

September 25, 2008
12:00 pm US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources


Phthalates Q&A (Word)

Our Stolen Future- Phthalates: What are phthalates? What are the health concerns?

Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act

Download the full text of the act (PDF)

Progress against toxins in toys takes small step, Chicago Tribune, August 2008

REACH (Regulation, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals)

Download the full text of the legislation (PDF)

HEAL brochure- Understanding REACH (PDF)

Developmental neurotoxicity of industrial chemicals, The Lancet

Chemicals review by Dr. Phillippe Grandjean and founding CHE Partner Dr. Phillip Landrigan, 2006

REACH FAQ and other resources

Disease Causation: Complexity and Proof

Good Genes Gone Bad, The American Prospect
Article on epigenetics and the environment by distinguished CHE Partner Pete Myers, 2006

The Problem With Hormesis, Article about low-dose impacts by Pete Myers

DNA is Not Destiny, Discover, October 2006

What price would you put on your prostate, liver, or fertility? Oakland Tribune, March 2006

Green Chemistry

Calling All Chemists, Green chemistry cover story, Chemical & Engineering News, August 2008

The journey to safe chemicals, editorial, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 2008

Reports produced by the Program in Green Chemistry & Chemicals Policy, Center for Environmental and Occupational Health, University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health:

California Green Chemistry Initiative

Resolutions Calling for Chemicals Policy Reform

American Medical Association

American Public Health Association

World Federation of Public Health Associations [PDF]

Listen to Recording

In late July, lawmakers in the United States passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which includes provisions banning three types of phthalates (plastics softeners) and temporarily banning three other types from certain children's products. The ban is based on limited data suggesting that phthalates act as endocrine disruptors. The CPSI Act, as well as the 2007 European REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) legislation, are landmark examples of a precautionary, rather than reactionary, approach to public health.

How do REACH and the phthalates ban fit into a larger movement toward the precautionary approach? What constitutes "proof of harm" in light of emerging knowledge about the complexity of disease causation? Just how does new science become new policy?Nearly a hundred CHE Partners and friends joined us on Sep 25, 2008 for a special CHE Policy Education Callexploring these important and timely questions.

The call was moderated by Steve Heilig, MPH, Director of Public Health and Education at the San Francisco Medical Society. The call lasted one hour and will be recorded for archival purposes.

Featured Speakers

  • Janet Nudelman, Director of Program and Policy at the Breast Cancer Fund
  • Dr. Ted Schettler, Science Director at the Science & Environmental Health Network
  • Lisette van Vliet, Toxics Policy Advisor at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Health Care Without Harm